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WOODMAN, spare that tree!

Touch not a single bough!

In youth it sheltered me,

And I’ll protect it now.

‘Twas my forefather’s hand

That placed it near his cot;

There, woodman, let it stand,

Thy axe shall harm it not!


That old familiar tree,

Whose glory and renown

Are spread o’er land and sea,

And wouldst thou hew it down?

Woodman, forbear they stroke!

Cut not its earth-bound ties;

O, spare that aged oak,

Now towering to the skies!


When but an idle boy

I sought its grateful shade;

In all their gushing joy

Here too my sisters played.

My mother kissed me here;

My father pressed my hand –

Forgive this foolish tear,

But let that old oak stand!


My heart-strings round thee cling,

Close as the bark, old friend!

Here shall the wild-bird sing,

And still they branches bend,

Old tree! The storm still brave!

And, woodman, leave the spot;

While I’ve a hand to save,

Thy axe shall hurt it not.


Poem by George Pope Morris


Local farm fields are rich in history, even in the city of Fort Wayne. Traveling north on Lindenwood, west of the University of St. Francis campus and Bishop D’Arcy Stadium is the soon to be designed James Shields Sports Complex, named after James Shields, a member of the Board of Trustees’ Athletic Committee and longtime supporter of the university.

Our friends at the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported that the University of Saint Francis plans to develop this more than 26-acre field for the university’s sports facility.

Located in the middle of the field to house the Shields Sports Complex stands a tall and mighty ol’ tree. This tree and piece of land no doubt could tell us an interesting story, if it could only talk.

As one contemplates on yesteryear, we can almost feel the late afternoon heat of a September day. The harvesting of crops soon begins and so does the hard labor. During the day the shade from this old tree most likely brought a breath of fresh air. According to local historians, this could have been the site where a farmer and his team of horses would have a bite to eat and rest for a short time come mid-day.

I don’t know what types of crops were grown in this field in the past, but currently it is a vacant field. It strikes me as a huge pain in the you-know-what to have a tree sitting right in the middle of a field. I can’t imagine having to plant, mow or harvest around it. There must be a reasonable explanation.

Did this ol’ tree possibly provide shade for livestock when the field was vacant of crops? But not all fields were used for pasture.

Maybe it was a problem area and the tree’s roots kept the ground from washing away in the rain, stopping erosion to a degree.

Or, maybe it was left by the farmer to provide a roost for flying pest control, like hawks or owls to take out vermin.

Possibly it was a visual field marker that could be seen for miles. Used as a fencepost to divide the field, and when lined up with the tree you were halfway across the field.

How about when the thunderstorms roll in, the farmer and his team, no longer the highest object in the field.

Around the tree is a quantity of rocks. Was it a memorial marker for a grave(s)? “Here lies Fred. Enough said.”

What about sentimental reasons. It could have been the place where the farmer romanced his first love. Fifty or more years later, the tree has grown and now it’s hard to remove.

Another answer, if this happens to be Deutsch country, is that if it is a fruit tree or nut-bearing tree (apple, pear, walnut, or hickory) it was left to provide food to add to the farmstead’s winter pantry. Nut bearing trees take years to mature and can’t be easily replaced. These trees also drew game that could be hunted off after the crops were harvested.

Whatever the reason, it would be a shame to uproot this beautiful ol’ tree. Just think of all the history it has seen. Woodman, spare that tree.

The Waynedale News Staff
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Cynthia Cornwell

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